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Former militants seek rehabilitation package promised to them

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Tura, April 7: A tinge of disappointment and apprehension surrounds former militants of the banned Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) who came together on Wednesday at Chisobibra near Williamnagar in East Garo Hills, wherein they discussed problems about the delay in their rehabilitation package promised by the centre and state.

“We met today to request the government to release our economic packages so that most of the misguided youths of the region do not get into petty or bigger crimes. The money, that the central government has promised to us will go a long way to bettering the lives of most of us,” said former foreign secretary, Briyan Sim Marak after the meeting.

Over 70 former militants of the GNLA attended the Chisobibra meet and raised their problems in the light of the delay in their rehabilitation package. There are over 200 former militants who gave up arms and returned to the mainstream from the GNLA rebel outfit.

As per the MHA order for militants from the NE, surrendered cadres, including misguided youths as well as hardcore militants are to be provided Rs 4 lakhs that will be kept as a FD for 3 years before being provided to them. Further a stipend of Rs 6,000 per month will also be provided for a period of 3 years to rehabilitate those that laid down their arms.

“There have been reports that many surrendered GNLA cadres have been involved in petty crimes. However, how can they be blamed? The state government needs to be blamed as they have not been given what was promised to better their lives,” added Briyan on the issue of many members returning to petty crime.

On the issue of arms and ammunition that was submitted to the government, the former outfit members asserted that the incentive for surrendering them too has not been given to them.

“We surrendered everything to the government when we came overboard. There may be recoveries made in various parts of Garo Hills on a regular basis, but we have no connection with these hidden weapons,” said the foreign secretary on the hidden arms and ammunition of the outfit.

The former GNLA men further expressed anguish over the fact that the government’s promise of dismissing most of the cases against them has not been lived up to.

“We have not been given support by the government on the issue of cases. Various cases are lodged in various places which makes it extremely difficult for us. We request these cases be put through to only one place for the benefit of all. Also we seek the dismissal of these cases so that we can move on with our lives,” said Briyan while talking to the media.

Further he asserted that they had no intention of returning to the jungle and only wanted a chance to better their lives.

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